Seeing Red: Don't Show Me Your Card! : Show Me Your Cleats! - World Cup 2010 Blog Red and yellow cards are fouling up an already colorful sport.
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Seeing Red: Don't Show Me Your Card!

Ref. Stephane Lannoy, of France, 'red-cards' Brazilian mid-fielder, Kaka during the Brazil v Ivory Coast match.  Brazil won: 3-1. Ivan Sekretarev/AP hide caption

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Ivan Sekretarev/AP

One of the reasons it’s called 'The Beautiful Game' is its stripped down accessibility. Eleven players to a side, a big patch of green and one very obvious objective: put the ball in the goal. The rules are easily digestible for a casual fan like me.

Just when I think there’s something uniquely pure and primal about this game, there’s an infraction on the field. There’s a lot of arm waving and gesticulating by the players. What does the referee do?  Does he get right back into the player’s grill? Or toss the offender with a dramatic flourish like he might in baseball?


The official takes out a wallet. And from that wallet he brandishes a card, red or yellow.

At a moment of truth, a card comes out of a referee’s wallet, like a salesman making a final pitch to a new client. Talk about draining the buzz out of the game. Let’s stipulate this here: Wallets and cards don’t belong on the field of play. They’re just too incongruous and nerdy. At least that’s my perspective.  Wallets and cards bring to mind the workaday world during our moment of escape.

That’s a violation in itself.

And one other thing. I don’t know about soccer refs, but I carry around a bunch of cards in my wallet.  What if there’s a foul, and instead of pulling out yellow or red, the ref mistakenly takes out a Safeway Club card or a Borders gift card. Talk about losing your standing in an instant.

Okay, I’ve made my stand. It’s a game, not a meeting. No more cards. No more wallets. Let’s think of an infraction signal for those referees that’s more sporting and less corporate.

If you’re on board, write in suggestions by commenting below.

Or maybe you’re a wallet-and-card kind of soccer fan in which case you’re probably seeing red and thinking I should be banished from the blog –- until the knockout round at least